A beginner’s guide to windsurfing

Feel like taking to the water but don’t quite know where to start? Read our expert guide to windsurfing and you’ll be riding the waves in no time.

Windsurfing is one of the most popular water sports for a reason. It’s easy, it’s fun and you don’t need loads of special equipment to give it a go. Club Med resorts Punta Cana, Cancún, Les Boucaniers, La Caravelle, Palmiye, Bodrum and Bali all offer windsurfing lessons for beginners and there’s often no better time to try something new when you’re on holiday.

Danielle Lucas runs Getwindsurfing with her partner, Phil Richards, and we asked her for a few top tips to help newbies get in the water. Teaching all levels of windsurfers in locations around the world, running a successful coaching channel on YouTube, and winning a handful of professional awards along the way, there’s no better person to ask…

Why windsurfing?

“Windsurfing is just an incredible sport. It’s a great way to get out on the water without an engine, so it's just you and your equipment, working with the elements. You can’t control the weather so it’s always really exciting to try and make the best of what you get – you can get some great speed on windy days, or just enjoy exploring the waters at a slower pace when it’s calmer. People who windsurf are always chilled out, friendly and welcoming too. It’s a small sport and we all look out for each other. And we always want to get more people out there loving what we love too!”

Is it an easy sport for beginners to take up on holiday?

“Windsurfing can be easy if you have the right equipment and the right guidance, which most holiday resorts these days will have. Modern windsurfing equipment is lightweight and easy to use, and with a greater selection of kid’s and adult’s equipment now available it has definitely become much easier to master it was in the past. A good instructor will help you choose the right size board and sail, choose the right weather conditions to start in, and show you the best techniques for you to enjoy it as much as possible. Having a few days over a holiday to get plenty of hours in makes a big difference because as well as good quality guidance, time on the water is also a big key to success.”

What do you learn in your first windsurfing lesson?

“The first lesson usually begins with learning what equipment you need, how to put the equipment together and carry it safely, and then of course how to sail and turn the board around so you can return to your starting point. Usually you will also be shown some basic self-rescue and safety signals too. It is such great feeling getting the board sailing along for the first time! It's best to try and make sure you have a good couple of hours or more for your first lesson, as this ensures you have enough time to get sailing before the end of the lesson.”

What's usually the most difficult bit for people to master?

“This can vary. For a lot of people, confidence can be the most difficult part, getting over fears; perhaps of the water, or of failure. Some people find it hard to understand the wind, but it's best not to overthink it – go confidently and don’t put any pressure on yourself as a beginner. Relax, enjoy it and remember, everyone falls in, even the best in the world!”

What's the biggest misconception about windsurfing?

“A common one is that you have to be strong to windsurf. This is not the case. If you have the right equipment to match your height and weight, and you are taught good technique, you will use your own body weight to help you balance the power in the sail. Children and adults of all shapes and sizes can windsurf if they have the right equipment and technique.”

Can you give us a top tip to make us look better on our first lesson?

“Most windsurfers, from beginners onwards, tend to look down at their equipment, or their feet, instead of looking at where they are going. Like so many other sports – cycling, tennis, running, even day to day activities such as driving a car – you need to look at where you want to go in order to get there! If you look down at your feet, or at the equipment, you likely will fall in or lose control. Your head leads your whole body into a good position, which is so important for balancing the power in the sail, yet the temptation to look away can be a hard habit to break!”

Once you've learned the basics, what's next?

“You need to put in practice time on the water to get the most enjoyment from it. You can pursue the sport purely for fun, enjoying going to new destinations in the UK and around the world to follow the winds. But you can also look to go down the competitive routes. Getting into racing can be done from an early stage, and with more practice you can try your hand at wave sailing in the sea, try freestyle, learn windsurf foiling and much more.”

Can children learn windsurfing too?

“Absolutely. Depending on the mindset of the child they can start learning as young as 5 years old, sometimes younger, although some might not feel ready until they 8 or 10. It’s important that they want to do it, and have the right guidance and equipment – just like adults!

How suitable a sport is it for kids?

“Windsurfing is a great sport for kids. They will learn and improve all kinds of balance, coordination and reflex skills, but it’s also great fun. As you don't rely on an engine, you can get up and going along at pretty good speeds with the right equipment, so of course it is very exciting for kids.”

Do they use different equipment and learn different skills to the adults?

“Children will need equipment to match their size and strength, just like adults. Children’s equipment these days is great, lightweight and colourful, and they make some really advanced equipment now too so kids can really excel in the sport without compromising on quality of the gear if they want to. For young beginners the main focus is usually on having fun, using games on and off the water to help them learn, often with much less technical explanation and land drills than with adults.”

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